Published August 14, 2007
WASHINGTON – News of more tainted Chinese products — this time, toys made with dangerous lead paint — has led one U.S. senator to request U.S. toy manufacturers to volunteer to have their products inspected before they are put in kids' hands.
"I have asked to meet, next week, with the CEOs of the major U.S. toy manufacturers and retailers and will urge them to voluntarily submit to third-party inspections of their Chinese manufactured products," Sen. Dick Durbin said in a statement issued Tuesday after the Consumer Product Safety Commission announced that 9 million toys will be recalled.
"We can't wait any longer for China to crack down on its lax safety standards. This needs to stop now before more children and more families are put at risk," Durbin said.
Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, and Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., have introduced legislation to be considered in the Senate next month that would mandate third-party inspections of Chinese-made goods.
A prior bill proposed by Durbin would also beef up the role of the Consumer Product Safety Commission by expanding its ability to engage in regulatory actions and reduce the time companies are given to respond to requests for information on faulty products.
The legislation would impose penalties on retailers that knowingly sell recalled products and increases fines for violations. Durbin said that the most immediate threat — from products imported from China — should be confronted immediately.
"I think that we should temporarily detain and inspect all shipments of children's products from China that contain paint. Doing so is a strong step, but one that will catch tainted and dangerous toys before they hit store shelves," Durbin said.
In a separate statement Sen. Hillary Clinton, a Democratic presidential candidate, said lead safety standards must be tightened to "ensure that our children will not be exposed to this hazardous substance in their toys."
Clinton said the year-long vacancy at the top of the CPSC, which is run by a three-person panel, is hurting the country's ability to protect America's kids.
"In order to protect our children, we need to have a strong and active CPSC, not an agency that is understaffed and without permanent leadership," she said.
President Bush's nominee to head the CPSC withdrew his name earlier this year in the face of strong Democratic opposition, including by Clinton. Democrats compared the nomination of Michael Baroody, a former lobbyist with the National Association of Manufacturers, to a drug executive being appointed head of the Food and Drug Administration.
On Tuesday, Toy-making giant Mattel Inc. issued recalls for about 9 million Chinese-made toys that contain magnets that can be swallowed by children or could have lead paint.
The recalls includes 7.3 million play sets, including Polly Pocket dolls and Batman action figures, and 253,000 die cast cars that contain lead paint.
Nancy A. Nord, acting CPSC chairman, said no injuries had been reported with any of the products involved in the new recall. But an earlier Polly Pocket recall last November came after several injuries were reported.
This is the second Mattel recall in two weeks. Earlier this month, consumers were warned about 1.5 million Chinese-made toys that contain lead paint.
"There is no excuse for lead to be found in toys entering this country," Nord said. "It's totally unacceptable and it needs to stop."
The recall — and Durbin's proposal — came as the Commerce Department released numbers that show the trade imbalance with China rose by 5.7 percent in June to $21.2 billion, and is set to surpass last year's record trade deficit with China of $233 billion.
FOX News' Trish Turner and The Associated Press contributed to this report.